One life to live #46: Hardcore Inferno and then what?


After losing a 60 WD in hell, and then his replacement at 59 in hell, I was surprised to find my first DiabloWikiHardcore DiabloWikiMonk in DiabloWikiInferno. It’s not easy by any means, and I don’t expect to beat it any time soon, but what do I do once I have?

At the moment my Monk is parked in Act 2. I’m still grinding gear and gold to hopefully have him continue onward in inferno. Yet each upgrade begs to question why keep pushing?

That’s a question I never had to ask in D2. There was always something better, something to push for. If it wasn’t the next level it was some piece of gear for me or for a character I hadn’t created yet. You would defeat hell Diablo/Baal and keep going because you weren’t done. Bosses weren’t a end point but a farming opportunity, and a chance at riches.

As it stands right now D3’s end game for Hardcore is simply finishing it. Being able to say you survived through that hardest difficulty, then starting over on a new character. There is little incentive to try to get better gear, or farm for items you know won’t drop and in a difficulty meant to kill you.

Hardcore and Softcore face the same problems with the endgame. It becomes a game on minimal upgrades and lackluster loot. When I found my first legendary in Inferno it wasn’t a time for celebration but a chance to see just how bad they really are. I’ve been slowly amassing a stockpile of gold and no matter how much I have I still feel too poor to buy what I need. When an upgrade is available it never really seems worth dropping several million for a few more resist or vitality. The reason Hardcore isn’t showing as many signs of atrophy is due to the smaller player base(4.1 %) and even smaller amount in inferno. Less people are in Inferno to see these challenges and as a result the seem less apparent.

However, I will say I am no where near close to finishing Inferno. The difficulty is very challenging and has me constantly questioning my gear and build. I love that. I love that I can’t really feel safe and sleepwalk through it. I also love the diversity of the endgame, I can grind champion packs and face a new challenge each time. Diablo 2’s Mephisto also had the same tricks.

So what would make the hardcore game better?

Now I’m not a game developer, and I have little aspiration to be one, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t put a few ideas out there.

1. Stop fixing little problems

People are farming goblins and barrels? Great let them. People are rushing through the early content? Great let it happen. People are swapping gear to MF? Sounds like they have a system. Stop fixing little things and focus on the grand scale. None of those things help in the long run, and take away from what people are enjoying. Sadly those little fixes also hurt the larger population. I like to grind quests to level for safety, by lowering the xp values I can’t. I like to smash barrels and vases but now I know it’s almost pointless.

2. Get rid of HC enrage timers

Inferno is tough, and we need to gear for survival. However, with Enrage timers we also need to gear for dps. This pigeon holes a lot of players and forces a lot of time incessantly farming to get the perfect gear: Not because you want it but because you need it.

3. Increase drop rates and change legendaries.

A legendary should be one of the best items in the game. A perfectly rolled rare should surpass it but that should be few and far between. Legendaries also serve as break points for characters. If I had X item I could take on Y content. Think of all the times in D2 that you knew once you could toss on your full sigon, or Burizza how you could clear through the next act. Legendaries dropping more also provides incentive to farm. I can’t honestly expect to find anything outside of a rare right now. That in it self makes it hard to go in and grind gear.

4. Decrease difficulty or buff characters

We don’t need to nerf Inferno into oblivion but if it was stock in difficulty through the whole we might have more people venturing into it. I know now that My monk will get slaughtered in Act 2 so I’m idling in Act 1. After months of the beta I find myself running the same content, that’s kinda sad. Or buff our characters, I’ve heard several ideas about this and would love to see some sort of incentive to keep going post 60. Kripp talked about champion levels: A bonus to stats after 5 stacks of neph valor that would be like leveling, but the xp is only gained after downing champion packs. I like this idea but realize it would be a pain to implement. Even if you were gainign a 100xp per pack I guarentee people would grind them and love it. As a result of gaining strenth from this you might then push into higher difficulties/acts.

Rune synergies. What if you could link two runes together and gain their combined bonus? How you implement and how many you could rune are all things to be discussed but having some more firepower or defense would be great and might shake things up a bit.

For myself I’ve decided to take some time to level all the classes to 60 and and get them to inferno. My hope is by the time I accomplish that there might be something that motivates me to push past it.

One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!

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  1. “For myself I’ve decided to take some time to level all the classes to 60 and and get them to inferno. My hope is by the time I accomplish that there might be something that motivates me to push past it.”

    Like you, me too have come to this conclusion …

  2. Another Inferno Nerf? That would make inferno pretty much pointless, until now it has been (at least in the later acts) retaining somewhat of a difficulty no matter how good your gear is despite the nerf. If it’s no longer a little challenging, the game could have just stopped in hell, inferno is then nothing but padding. That is of course about SC (just starting out in HC) but I don’t think anyone wants to have seperate difficulties.
    I agree though that the itemization is mediocre at best even though I am no follower of the “diablo is about being overpowered” trend that demands uber items.

  3. You’r nailing it. Well done!

    Act1 is endgame. Rest are just supple-mental-

    Enrage timers in a game like this is just silly. If someone want to, and need to kite a pack for an hour as they would one shot him, he should be allowed and encouraged to accomplish such a feature. Not penalized 😥

  4. I do not like your post at all.

    I have lost over 4 lvl55+ characters now, 3 of them on inferno (act 2 was tough back then) and it’s my only reason I’m still playing this game. If it were any easier, I’d lose most of my enjoyment and stop playing. There is no point in playing the game if it’s easy.

    man up and find ways to beat inferno, as kripp and others already did. if you want an easier game, go to softcore

    edit: sorry if I came out as aggressive, it wasn’t meant to be like that. anyway, the game is beatable and enjoyable as it is. if they find a way to prevent DC deaths, it would be perfect

  5. Great constructive post!
    I agree with this amazing post and I wish blizzard reads and takes I to consideration

  6. 4 other classes to bring them to lvl 60.

    Create perfect stars or higher with jewel crafting and make millions of gold (and soon real money). At least in Softcore.

    PvP incoming in a few months.

    That’s at least 6 more months to enjoy this game at 3 hours per day in both softcore and hardcore.

    Then I wish you luck with HC PvP 🙂

  7. Due to lack of incentive to play.. I re-installed the original Diablo. Man, the game came a long way since them. But strangely, the 15year old game is more fun? 😯

    • Diablo 3 > the older D’s by a wide margin.

      Take for example the controls and responsiveness and the engine.

      I simply could no longer play d2 now that I am enjoying Diablo 3.

      Let alone D1.

      Diablo 3 is the best PC game since the launch of Wow.

      Haters gonna hate.

      • lot of times, I have the feeling that the responsiveness of the engine is a bit slow. Didn’t remember that D2 was so infuriating.

      • D1 was a game of tactics, like real-time medieval chess. Back then, if you talked about “engines” in video games you would get some funny looks. D1 STILL has a superior Unique/Legendary system than D3 which is pretty frickin’ sad.

        D1 is still a very fun rainy day/nostalgic game (for me) but it easily deserves to be on every Top 10 games of all-time list. Don’t hate on old games! 😀

      • Game quality is not determined by graphics.

        Ignorants gonna ignore.

      • Please, get your tongue out of Blizzard ass.

      • “Diablo 3 is the best PC game since the launch of Wow.”

        fanboys gonna fanboy.

        Really ? best PC game since 2005 😆

      • And still everyone forgets that the best pc game to date is Quake II.

  8. I personally don’t really agree with this post. I switched to hardcore exactly because there is no endgame after beating act 4 inferno on softcore.

    On softcore you can get a char to 60 and with some decent gear you can beat diablo inferno. I did this myself within the first 2 weeks of release, and then quickly realized I had no reason to continue farming more gear just so I could farm even more gear faster. The game just lacks any kind of progression that isn’t gear, so it gets boring fast.

    Moving to hardcore fixed this for me. My barb is currently in act 3 inferno but I want a little more gear before I start attempting it. The whole point is, now I actually have a reason to get that gear. Progression on hardcore is slow, but beating that next boss really feels like an accomplishment every time. That’s what makes it fun.

    Another nerf to difficulty/enrage timers, or any other change that would make it easier to progress, would only accomplish one thing: You’ll reach the point where there’s nothing left to do that much faster.

    Of course the real solution would be to add some viable endgame content, but since we won’t be seeing that for a while, I think hardcore is fine for now. The only change I would like to see is lowering some of the extreme spike damage in act 3+ (the nerfs lowered all damage to be much more manageable but some of the spikes are still there).

  9. Agree with number one, and couldn’t possibly disagree with number four more. The team is spending time nerfing chests and goblins and MF gear swapping, when they need to be developing a proper end game and fixing items. But an Inferno nerf right now would kill any motivation I have left to play this game. It is meant to be difficult, and the game’s been out for about two months. If every mutt and Jeff was clearing Inferno on HC at this point, something would be terribly wrong and the haters would have yet another stone to throw.

  10. I agree with most of your suggestions but I don’t really get this:
    “As it stands right now D3?s end game for Hardcore is simply finishing it. Being able to say you survived through that hardest difficulty, then starting over on a new character. There is little incentive to try to get better gear, or farm for items you know won’t drop and in a difficulty meant to kill you.”
    And this wasn’t an issue in D2 HC? What was so different about beating Hell Baal vs Inferno Diablo? You can beat Inferno D with 800 dps weapon easily, and you can keep farming for a 1200, just like you could beat hell baal with a Spectral Shard and then keep farming for a Wizardspike.

    I went back to D2 just prior to D3’s release and was bored to tears before even reaching NM. The game is horribly outdated. I had fun back in 2000-2003, but it is pretty much irrelevant after D3.

  11. I’ll agree that itemization has no real variation in D3. I’ll also agree Blizzard is more than willing to hammer out any quirkyness of the game, and in the process eliminate small nuggets which individuals find fun. I played DII fairly consistently for over 8 years. It was unbalanced, quirky, never really could be truely conquered no matter how long you played it, and yet is fun to play. I still haven’t found enough in D3 compelling me to beat nightmare even in softcore.

    Sadly, they turned D3 into a smooth flavor WoW variant, not a Diablo game. That is also the reason I quit playing WoW, Burning Crusade was just another notch in their ‘perfected’ game system. Vanilla WoW may be called vanilla now, but it definetly had appealing quirky fun in its day which is now lost.

  12. i think there is as much reason to keep playing after killing inferno diablo in d3 as there was after killing hell diablo (then baal) in d2. i see no difference. i use/d both as a “end point”. after doing it will all the classes everything just became about killing monsters for fun

  13. What keeps me going in hardcore diablo 3? I WILL kill inferno diablo with a hardcore monk before I commit to any other class. Along the way, I know I will find gear for future characters, or at least as I have been doing it, gear for leveling new monks. I don’t care if I have to go through 20 monks, I decided which class I wanted to defeat Diablo before release, and I am sticking with my guns.

    Tired of grinding for loot? How? They changed NV stacks for a reason, to get you out into the random world and fight for your life. What can be more exciting than that? They gave us level 63 loot in a1. Even before this change, simple boss runs just were not effective. You had to go out of your way and get the 5 stacks regardless. Now you can start from say SK and kill everything till butcher. Sure, it may be a 2 hour run, but if you can easily farm all of the elites on the way, it is much more effective than a 30 min run to get 5 stacks and kill butcher. If you can do a similar run easily in a2, then more power to you, and also more potential for profit.

    The ONE big improvement that could IMMENSELY benefit hardcore players is let us have NV stacks starting at level 30. Get through normal, hit NM, and let us have an exciting time grinding NM-Inferno for the “whatever”th time. Some might argue this would inflate the market, but if you go into the AH, you will notice you can find any slot of gear with almost the exact stats you want (while leveling up). So what would the big deal be? And hell, maybe we would actually be able to find the set patterns or uniques that are supposed to be for our level.

    As for the enrage timers, that could be nice, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a gear check. If you aren’t having fun finding gear, then sorry. But to bypass a “controversial” game mechanic just because it is too hard isn’t the answer.

    • hell ya to everything in this post. kinda like you have been listening in on my vent cause these are things i have been saying to my friends

  14. Remember in D2C, in the early days, getting a gem to drop was like getting a legendary to drop in D3? It’ll get fixed.

    Haters gonna hate.

  15. The problem is d3 is simply an inferior version of d2. Sure, it’s better graphically, and has more skill variety (arguably). I don’t buy the “it’s only a 6 week old game” mess b/c they could have used 12 years of learning from d2 to perfect d3 conceptually before release.

    It’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong with d3. The Auction House ruining the item hunt, the lack of skill variety, no stat points, or the fact that it’s even more of an item chase than d2 was (recall, for instance, a javazon could wreck hell cows with crap gear – there’s no analog in d3), the low level cap that’s much more like WoW’s “endgame” than d2’s, the 4 person multi limit, the complete lack of PvP and gankers, the absurd lack of custom chat channels, the abysmally small storage space – for me it’s all of these things combined.

    And as for Inferno, I didn’t play d2 hardcore for so many years because it was hard. I played d2 hardcore for so many years because of the community, the nearly endless variety of characters, and the fact that I could play for 10 minutes or 3 hours and either could produce a great item for a new variant character. Can’t do that here thanks to Nephalem Valor.

    I can tell you this – d3 won’t have nearly the same shelf-life that d2 had, barring major changes. And it makes me sad.

    • “… b/c they could have used 12 years of learning from d2 to perfect d3…”

      It hasn’t been developement for more than 4-5 years, I’d assume.

      “The Auction House ruining the item hunt, the lack of skill variety, no stat points”

      The auction house is a welcome change. Trading items in d2 was tedious, timeconsuming and took sitting in trade games / forums for weeks if not months to get / find something useful.

      In d2 classic the overall trading was also broken because you could not really trade in for anything other than perfect rubies and buying a great rare was impossible because gold was useless.

      Skill variety is also kinda better than in d2. Sorceresses skills were pretty much like 3-4 attack skills per tree, few utilies and rest passives pretty much all attack skills in her chosen tree at some point turned just into a passive for your main skill.

      Don’t get me started on the paladin and his auras.

      Also, usage of stat points was rather useless, because in the end, spending points for a) vita b) dex for max block or c) energy for a sorceress who actually used mana shield, is just another way how you can screw up your character.

      Also, the hardcore community I always saw in d2 was people shouting at me in channels “LOL SOFTCORE NEWB”.

      “4 person multi limit, the complete lack of PvP and gankers, the absurd lack of custom chat channels, the abysmally small storage space”

      The four-person limit depends on the commenter, the lack of pvp will be fixed in a future patch (nevermind the fact that in my opinion pvp never belonged to Diablo), ganking was utter bullshit and painful for every player in public games and caused the public games to pretty much die before the 1.13 patch and chat channels are there and I don’t know whenever you are talking about the d2’s storage space or d3’s because in d3 you have alot more storage space available to you.

      I’d say d3 is quite similar in many ways to d2 than most people want to see, just without some tedious mechanics that d2 had. Maybe people (me included) just loved the d2’s tedious parts so much that the tedious parts become a pair of nostalgia glasses.

  16. 100% agree except for inferno nerf.
    4. Decrease difficulty or buff characters
    again? no way, i think it was wrong it the first time. its supposed to be hard, most players aren’t supposed to be able to finish it, i cant see myself ever finishing inferno- i love that!!! i love that ill probably never be good enough but … maybe i could be?!? nerfing the difficulty directly nerfs the prestige associated with that difficulty. [a side effect of which players who complete it in different patches can’t relate to each other.]

  17. Sometimes wonder if the people who hate D3 only played ranged characters in D2. Glass cannon and near naked play was possible in D2 because the AI was so bad and everyone had a merc pocket tank. Now every class must cope with incoming damage. Inferno just ramps it up high.
    Great items were very rare in D2, but you could farm good items in nightmare to use or trade up. You could also use quest rewards like forge or socket or imbue. Low level runewords were feasible.
    D3 has issues that can be solved, mainly by improving legendaries (make low level ones end gam viable), quest rewards, and crafting system (more recipes with predictable results).

  18. Yo, I think the only end game d2 had progression wise over d3 was after you were effectively max level [finished gear, finished skills] you could still rack up xp, even if it didn’t do much and show it off on the ladder.

    I know d3 would benefit from some kind of running tally of xp earned over 60, anand an xp ladder or even just a ladder of inferno elites killed. That kind of leaderboard would be an excellent incentive for elite hunting in inferno vs goblin/chest farming. I was honestly surprised there was no kind of public leaderboard score like in d2.

    edit: I also agree with craezyjim that d3 could use unique quests like d2 had for socketing/imbueing etc. 1/difficulty/character type quests. Right now the only real quest rewards are in normal the bosses/mid-bosses have extra drops which is not even repeated in nm/hell.

  19. So you’re saying to make inferno easier so you can clear it faster? I thought the point of this article is about end-game, not a QQ post about inferno difficulty in hardcore.

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